Sunday, April 17, 2011

Physical Therapy, Exercise, Careful Training

I'm feeling a bit encouraged about my prospects of continuing to train, with modifications, post ACL tear.

I've been to three physical therapy sessions, and have been good about doing my PT exercises twice daily. Compared to working out, the PT exercises don't feel like they're doing much, but they are clearly doing something to strengthen the muscles around my knee and give me more range of motion (a limitation imposed by the meniscus tear).

I've gone on the elliptical machine at the gym at work three times. I'm using it because there's a limited motion and there's no impact, but I can still get a good cardio workout.

I have also now taken three classes in my mixed martial arts school. I have been very careful about kicks, and my knee has been fine. It's good to see my friends and instructors and to continue to get a workout.

One of those workouts was a private class with our school's Joshu, a young (20s), very skilled martial artist and a friend. We just worked on form for punches and kicks (again, being careful not to do anything that would torque my ACL-less right knee). I had developed a way of throwing round kicks that involved a lot of leaning and turning in order to avoid punches. He worked with me to move my hips independently of my shoulders, which should speed up the kick, allow me to focus more on the target, and I think put me at less risk of torque injuries to my remaining good leg. It will take time to undo prior habits.

I'm not going to spar until I get a knee brace, which I plan to order from my doctor when I see him in three weeks.

My plan continues to be that I will not get ACL reconstruction surgery. I needed ACL reconstruction four years ago to get my black belt. I don't believe I need the ACL reconstruction if I am training for fun and fitness, and if I am very careful.

There's some precedent.

There are, I realized, two women in my school who ruptured their ACLs and who continue to train wearing braces. They're both excellent athletes; they'v had mixed success training in their condition.

One is a second-degree black belt who has been without one of her ACLs for many years. She's one of those amazing Gumby-like types who's about a foot taller than me but can kick me in the head. I haven't seen her on my abbreviated training schedule, but when I do, I will definitely talk with her about how she takes care of her knee. She does some sparring; she doesn't do grappling. Mostly she takes the "core" classes that are bag workouts.

The other fellow student offers a bit of a cautionary tale. She's also a good athlete and is a former cop. However, she did injure her other knee a few months ago--I believe while sparring--and has some discomfort in her daily activities.

That's what I don't want to do.

So for now, it's PT and patience for me.


Felicia said...

I so admire your gumption, determination and grit, Bob. Keep on keepin' on :-)

SueC said...

I'm glad is all is going well at the moment - you sound like you are being sensible about the whole thing.

I'm really surprised though that you have so many fellow students/instructors who've had ACL tears! I don't know anyone in my club that has had one - what are you all doing?

BobSpar said...

Felicia, thanks for the encouragement!

SueC: Hmm, good question, I don't know why....